Updated Aug 25, 2011 - 4:34 pm
'Regular season dress rehearsal' arrives for Cardinals
Cardinals vs. Chargers
The third preseason game. The so-called "regular season dress rehearsal."
Training camp up in the beautiful pines of Arizona is officially over. The beginning of the season is nearing.
The fourth preseason game -- where the final roster spots are won and lost -- is less than one week away.
This is the game you want your starting squad to look its sharpest. Of course there is still no game planning or scheming for the other team, but what you should be doing is running your own stuff correctly and crisply.
The excuse and process of training camp is over. Real games that count are on the way.
For the Arizona Cardinals there are many areas for vast improvement if they are going to be realistically thinking NFC West crown come January.
The quarterback play -- and there is no doubt in my mind that it will -- has to continue to steadily improve. Kevin Kolb is learning on the fly and will be for awhile. In the first two games he was good -- not great, not awful. Let's mix in some great.
I'd like to see him lead a touchdown drive -- or two -- on Saturday night. A smooth, march the ball down the field scoring drive. Not for the sake of a meaningless TD or even the fans' sake, but rather for the mentality of the entire team. Last year still lingers with anyone who lived through it. It has to.
Keeping with the backfield theme, Beanie Wells is "the guy" this year whether he earns it or not. When the lockout was lifted it seemed like a great training camp battle could be brewing. A trade and an injury later and it's all Wells, all the time now.
I need to see that he can actually be "the guy." Talk is cheap, on paper it is even cheaper.
It's year three Beanie. Hold onto the ball, pick up blitzes, hit the hole and use your pancake stiff arm. Easy enough right?
Next, the offensive line. Scariest group on the field in my eyes (even scarier than the secondary). This group has had a rough go of it in recent years. A lot is going to be asked of them, and one can hope they find five guys who step up to the challenge. Through two games I'm quite nervous.
Enough with the offense. I'm asking a lot, I know.
On defense I go back to my worry from up in Oakland: the secondary.
Time on the field will only help this group. I hope the starters get plenty of reps this week and the following week -- specifically the corners. Whoever Ray Horton is running out there against the Carolina Panthers needs game action practice. By Week 1 it'll be too late (Cam Newton or not).
Be decent and average. Not unrealistic expectations.
The third game of the preseason. What many call the most important of them all.
How many questions will get answered? My guess is none completely, but we ought to have a pretty good idea of what we can expect come 9/11.
What I learned this week…
I learned just how great Seattle is in August. A high of 80 while Phoenix can't get below 85. Hello chilly weather. I enjoyed you. We'll have to see if I can make this an annual trip. Breath not being held.
Tweet of the week…
Sean Burroughs just homered. That just became the most surprising thing that happened all day.
Yes, Burroughs homering in a Major League game for the first time since April 30, 2005 was surprising, even beating out an earthquake and a trade. Not bad.
Suggestion of the week…